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WWJD…if he drove past a burning car?

December 4, 2007

In my efforts to avoid work this morning I had an interesting discussion.  We were debating Good Samaritan laws, and how they should be enforced (or not).  I was looking on Wikipedia to learn a little more and came across some interesting information.

Apparently Canada and some European countries have Good Samaritan laws that not only protect you if you help someone in good faith and they get hurt, but actually compel you to act in certain situations.  For example, you are breaking the law if you don’t help a child in danger if you see one in British Columbia:

Only in Quebec does a person have a general duty to respond if first-aid or medically certified.  In British Columbia persons have a duty to respond only where a child is endangered.

I’m not sure how I feel about this, but it’s definitely an interesting concept.  How these are enforced, and what the details are I don’t know (read: Wikipedia didn’t have them listed), but the general idea is there.  The BC government is saying, effectively, that it is your duty as a citizen to at a very minimum report the situation to law enforcement.  Failure to do so is punishable in a court of law.

I wonder what the reaction would be in the United States if we tried to pass a similar law.  Americans are in general very individualistic people who don’t like to be told by their government what they can’t do (unless it’s in the Bible), so I can’t imagine a positive reaction.  Most people will see it as being forced to expose themselves to avoidable danger for no benefit to themselves.  Which is true.  The individual does not receive the benefit; society does.  But I’m not sure it’s such a bad thing.  When I have kids, I want people to act if they see someone doing something to my kids in my absence.

One of the potential negatives of course, is that even well meaning people make mistakes, and direct intervention could lead to a worse end to the situation than would have otherwise happened.  You may have genuinely wanted to help, but if you break my back pulling me out of a burning car, at the end of the day my back is still broken.  Maybe the paramedics would have gotten there in time to extract me more professionally and without permanent damage.  Who knows. Or maybe I would have died and you are a hero.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. andy permalink*
    December 4, 2007 3:20 pm

    He would assume the persons inside the burning car deserved it since our country has gays with civil rights.

  2. December 4, 2007 7:56 pm

    You’ve been reading too much Fred Phelps.

  3. andy permalink*
    December 5, 2007 12:48 pm

    Fred Phelps needn’t write books, there is only one book, and we are supposed to believe it word for word. Duh.

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